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How to Clean a Microwave


All it takes is one round of leftovers or burnt bag of popcorn to turn a sparkling clean microwave into a grimy, smelly mess. The key to keeping a clean countertop microwave is regular maintenance — every few days, at the very least. When you notice stains on your microwave’s interior or want to get rid of stuck-on food, turn to this foolproof guide on how to clean a microwave by Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab.

Unlike other kitchen appliances, you can clean a microwave with everyday cleaning products you already have in your house, including all-purpose cleaner, baking soda, dish soap or vinegar (white or apple cider). That’s right, stay away from bleach because General Electric warns it actually weakens the plastic interior and damages the appliance in the long-run. Unless you let tomato sauce splatters sit for too long, microwaves don’t usually stain like most countertops and sinks, so the whitening cleaner is unnecessary to begin with.

Now, follow this expert-tested guide to clean your microwave from the outside in — door, turntable, and all.

How to Clean the Inside of a Microwave

The mixture of splatters and smells can leave your microwave looking, well, rough. To target your microwave’s interior – turntable included — follow this step-by-step:

  1. Combine 1 cup water and lemon, lime or orange slices (squeeze juice from the fruit slices into the water) into a microwave-safe bowl. If you have white or apple cider vinegar on hand, combine a few tablespoons and 1 cup water into a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Place it inside the microwave and turn it on high power for several minutes until the mixture boils and the window steams up.
  3. Let cool for 5 minutes before opening the door, then remove the bowl and wipe the inside clean with a sponge.

    1. How to Clean Greasy Microwave Doors

      It’s not just the inside that counts: Remove smudges and grease from the microwave’s exterior with these tips and tricks.

      1. Clean the entire door — edges, both sides, and where it seals the oven — with a sponge dampened with water and dipped in a little baking soda. Wipe with a damp cloth or sponge to rinse.
      2. For a greasy window, clean with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. Rise and wipe dry.
      3. For heavy grease build-up, wipe your microwave door down with an all-purpose, grease-cutting cleaner (Mr. Clean Clean Freak Mist) or a sudsy mix of dish soap and water. Apply the cleaner with a cloth or sponge to prevent cleaner from getting into the vent holes. Try not to spray electronic controls with cleaner to avoid damage.

        1. How to Get a Burnt Smell (and All Smells, Really) Out of the Microwave

          When you burn popcorn in the microwave, the smell comes back as soon as you turn it back on. That means, it’s best to get rid of the stench right away.

          • For light odors (spicy food with a strong aroma, for example), air it out by leaving the door open or place a bowl of baking soda inside with the door closed to absorb smells.
          • For strong odors (think: burnt popcorn), clean any leftover residue and place an odor-absorbing gel inside, like Fresh Wave, until you run it again.

            How to Remove Stuck-on Food From the Microwave’s Interior

            To get rid of dried-on food, use Good Housekeeping Seal Star Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. If it’s stuck to the turntable, just place the turntable in the dishwasher or wash by hand with sudsy water. Just make sure you read your manufacturer’s manual beforehand.

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